Soil as significant evidence in 4 murder investigations involving a wide range of soil types across Australia

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Fitzpatrick, Rob ORCID ID icon; Raven, Mark; Self, Peter ORCID ID icon


2013-10-17


Conference Material


4th International Conference on Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics (ISF), The Hague, The Netherlands


p. 135


Puts J and Neuteboom W


Through 4 recently completed case studies involving 1 attempt of murder, 1 cold murder (19 years ago) and 2 contemporary murder investigations (past 3 years), this presentation will demonstrate how field and laboratory approaches have been critical in developing reliable soil information, from landscape to microscopic scales, to help in forensic investigations, which were used as evidence in Australian State Supreme courts. A wide range of natural soil types (sandy coastal dunes, sandy swamps and clayey colluvium) and human-made soil types (comprising road, brick and bone fragment materials) across Australia were used in these forensic investigations to associate materials taken from questioned items, such as shoes, clothing, shovels or vehicles, with a specific control location or the crime scene. These forensic cases were tremendously complex, and the challenges of associating relevant soil information from one source with another involved the following 2 activities, as detailed in Fitzpatrick and Raven (2012): Soil material collection of one or more samples. Samples were categorized in the following 3 ways: (i) questioned soil samples whose origin was unknown or disputed - often from the suspect or victim, (ii) control samples whose origin was known – usually from sites such as the crime scene and (iii) alibi samples whose origin was known and that provided a measure of the uniqueness of the questioned and control samples (i.e. they provided a more comprehensive comparative analyses of the questioned and control samples by providing a more truthful depiction of their within-site heterogeneity). Soil material characterization and evaluation. This required a multidisciplinary approach, which combined descriptive, analytical and spatial information by subdividing approaches and methods into the following 4-stages: (1) Initial morphological characterization of the soil materials for screening of samples. (2) Semi-detailed characterization of minerals and organic matter following sample selection and size fractionation (50µm). (3) Detailed characterization and quantification of minerals and organic matter using advanced analytical methods. (4) Evaluation of soil-landscape information often involving soil classification, mapping and construction of soil-landscape models. The progression of the soil forensic examination through each of the four stages depended on a number of factors such as the amount of sample available and the results from the early stages of the examination. Reference Fitzpatrick R.W. and Raven M.D. (2012). Guidelines for Conducting Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensic Investigations: Version 6. Centre for Australian Forensic Soil Science. Report No. 076. 10th April 2012. 36pp.


6th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference (EAFS-2012


The Netherlands


Forensic Soil Science


Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified


http://www.gate2biotech.com/th-european-academy-of-forensic-science-conference/


© Copyright 2012 CSIRO


EP125829


Conference Abstract


English


Fitzpatrick, Rob; Raven, Mark; Self, Peter. Soil as significant evidence in 4 murder investigations involving a wide range of soil types across Australia. In: Puts J and Neuteboom W, editor/s. 4th International Conference on Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics (ISF); The Hague, The Netherlands. The Netherlands: 6th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference (EAFS-2012; 2013. p. 135. http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/96319?index=1



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